GAROWE, Somalia

The Somali military killed on Tuesday at least 14 al-Shabaab militants, including an operational commander, when they attacked a government-controlled town in southern Somalia, an official said.

Ismail Mukhtar Oronjo, a Somali government spokesman, told Anadolu Agency that Somali national army repulsed the attack in Bal’ad, Middle Shabelle region.

“The terrorists crossed the river early morning and attacked the town but they were inflicted with huge casualties. One government soldier was killed and six others wounded,” he said.

While the al-Qaeda affiliated insurgent group claimed it had captured the town, the official said the government had restored law and order.

Bal’ad is an strategic agricultural town located 30 kilometers (18 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu.

On Monday, at least three soldiers were killed, and several others injured in a car bomb blast targeting a military base outside the port city of Kismayo.

One US service member was also wounded in the attack, according to a statement from US African Command. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had killed several US soldiers.

Formed in 2004, the organization has been fighting to topple the country’s Western-backed government, and establish its own rule based on strict Islamic Sharia law. It frequently carries out attacks against both military and civilian targets.

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